Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The 8-Vote Opportunity

Nate Freeman posted a great summary of the activity at town meeting day over at Green Mountain Daily. Here's a brief excerpt:

"The floor activity on Town Meeting Day in Northfield had dwindled to a 20 minute affair by 2008, but this year it drew what appeared to be 200 or so folks. While I couldn't attend past 12:30pm, the show got off to an auspicious start with the mundane task of electing a moderator. Apparently, Mr. Larry Drown called for a paper ballot vote, nominating Rep. Anne Donahue against long-time moderator, Steve Jeffrey. Something as simple as the vote for moderator turned into a 45+ minute event.

A call for 100% Australian Ballot voting brought out some folks who prefer to maintain the tradition of floor activity on Town Meeting Day.

This led into the approval of minutes. A lengthy discussion ensued.

Another contentious issue derived from a petition to reconsider a special town meeting vote in November. The question related to whether or not the Town and Village should share an equal tax rate for road and bridge maintenance. This question brought out many residents of the Town who did not want to share the highway maintenance burden with the Village because their tax rate would rise slightly. Northfield is one of about 14 towns in Vermont that continues to operate with a town/village municipal system, requiring twice the level of governance over the same community. Questions such as the one raised today unmask a shortsighted reality of taxpayer rationale: 'My taxes pay for the town truck to plow my road, not theirs...'

The Australian Ballot vote on the school budget was refreshingly close despite its failure."

One of the things I liked about Nate's post is its upbeat assessment of the school budget vote. Obviously, most of us are disappointed that the budget was voted down so narrowly, but Nate's take on it is decidedly optimistic. His point is that in these difficult times it's in some ways a victory to come so close (especially in a town with a history of voting down school budgets - sometimes repeatedly). So, in a sense, we're continuing to close the gap.

Maybe this is our "8-vote opportunity" to re-organize, rally around our public schools and communicate a message that really explains what the school budget dollars will fund and why they are needed. This may be a great organizing opportunity to get out there for the special election and rally for public education.

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